The belief that smokers place a heavy financial burden to the health care system that their neighbors have to subsidize has taken a hit.
According to Dutch study, it turns out that people who die sooner (a sad side effect of smoking) cost the system less overall than people who hang on to a ripe old age.
If you look at the health care costs consumed over a lifetime, fat smokers are cheap compared to thin vegetarians. (Well, maybe not vegetarians, they may actually be on to something.)
But you know what I mean.
“It was a small surprise,” said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. “But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more.”
In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.
Now, saving the health care system money is no reason to smoke. But it is a reason to think twice about the fairness of taxing tobacco at rates that would curl smokers’ hair – if they didn’t already shampoo every day so their friends won’t complain about the cigarette smell.